Want to exercise longer without feeling wiped out? A new study suggests adding beet juice to your diet. The research, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, zeros in on nitrate, which is found in beet juice and converted to nitric oxide in the body; the molecule has the ability to more easily dilate our blood vessels and increase blood flow.
A press release on the study explains exercisers who consumed beet juice experienced this effect both while doing a progressive cycling exercise and while at rest. Blood pressure was lowered and the heart needed less oxygen during the workout, which led researchers to conclude that beet juice is “capable of enhancing O2 delivery and reducing work of the heart” so exercise can be “performed at a given workload for a longer period of time before the onset of fatigue.”
Better still, this bump can apparently be achieved in short order: The study’s 14 male participants drank beet juice for just 15 days.
The findings contrast those in a Penn State study from January; researchers found the juice “had no effect on the dilation of the brachial artery” among volunteers tasked with doing handgrip exercises, though they did find an “artery de-stiffening effect.”
Researchers did note some potential contributing factors: participants were very young and healthy, for instance, so their “vascular endothelial function” was in great shape to begin with. Second, they completed “a relatively small range of forearm exercise intensities”; it’s possible dilation would occur during a higher intensity workout. (Want to test it out? Here’s how much beet juice you should try drinking.)